More consulting for Britain’s top public intellectual. Life’s portfolio takes me to Hartlepool, jewel of that part of the Northeast for which Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlebrough are not jewels.
I like it here. Love it, in fact. As Tom, New Labour’s muscular yet succulent victory imagineer points out, the people are affectionate and cuddly, they live in real houses and they have a marina – a marina for the many, not the few.
We stood together last night by the seawall next to the marina. I watched as Tom spray painted the wall with the words:
LIBDEMS LUV PEADOS TRU OK
Some may call this hypocrisy, given New Labour’s campaign against antisocial behaviour. But I call it bricolage. I was musing along these lines when my normally knife-sharp intellect was suddenly overcome. It was a combination of set and setting. My being was suffused with a totality of Hartlepudlianity. I had a vision of cuddly, authentically affectionate little Hartlepudlians pouring forth from their houses of real bricks and joyously cavorting in a pro-social manner along the marina as the yachts pootled too and fro in the sunset. Then something happened. I came in my pants.
“Tom” I said. “I’ve come in my pants.”
“I know” said Tom. He clapped a manly hand on my shoulder and smiled. “We’ll talk later.”
The scene shifts to Labour’s by election headquarters. It is filled with enthusiastic young volunteers, each with a starched white t-shirt bearing the message: ideas + people = change.
Tom and I were sitting at a table in the corner. Tom was making crack pipes on which I was stenciling the words: a present from Charles Kennedy to the children of Hartlepool.
“So” said Tom. “You came in your pants.” I nodded.
“Good.” He leant forward. “That means you’re one of us. Take a look around.” The bright eyed volunteers were bobbing around the room with crack pipes and wads of Kleenex. Each had a tell-tale stain around the crutch. Apart from the women. They just squelched a bit.
“All of us in New Labour love Hartlepool. We love it so much that it makes us come in our pants. Being here makes us come in our pants. Thinking about being here makes us come in our pants. All decent human beings come in their pants at the thought of Hartlepool. And that goes all the way to the top.”
Tom leaned forward and touched his nose. “It really wasn’t guacamole, you know. Say no more.”
“Now look at those Lib Dems. They’ll be here, you mark my words, saying how much they care. They’ll be here all day, knocking on doors. Then they’ll all go home to liberalville to eat salad. And if you got the knickers off all of them and put them through a mangle, you wouldn’t get a drop.”
“When we Labour party members and supporters come in our pants at the thought of Hartlepool we’re not embarrassed. We’re proud. Because we’re not talking about a small amount of ejaculate here. We’re talking about a bond between the government and the people.”
“Hang on, that’s an unsupervised teenager out there.” Pausing only to grab a cattle prod and some electrodes, Tom sprinted out of the door. He left me with much to think about.